Assessing travel and visa obligations in Hong Kong

When traveling to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (Hong Kong, SAR PRC), your nationality and the types of activities you will conduct during your trip will determine whether you may travel lawfully as a business visitor or if you require work authorization. Please seek advice from your immigration counsel if you are uncertain about the specific types of activities that constitute business or work.

Traveling for business

What types of activities may I engage in as a business visitor?

As a business visitor to Hong Kong, you may engage in the activities below. While this list is not exhaustive and other activities could qualify as business, you may:

  • Attend short-term seminars or business meetings
  • Examine or supervise the installation/packaging of goods or equipment
  • Settle compensation or other civil proceedings
  • Participate in product orientation


If I qualify as a business visitor, do I need a visa for Hong Kong?

Nationals of the European Union, the United States, and many other select countries are eligible for a visa waiver and are not required to obtain a visa to enter and conduct business activities in Hong Kong. Additionally, foreign nationals in possession of valid Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Cards (ABTC) endorsed with “Valid for travel to HKG” may be eligible to enter Hong Kong and engage in permissible business activities without obtaining a visa. If you are not eligible for visa-waivered entry, you must obtain a Visitor Visa from the Hong Kong Immigration Department or a Chinese Embassy or Consulate prior to travel.

Special regulations apply to residents of Macau SAR PRC, Taiwan PRC and China PRC.

Working in Hong Kong

What types of activities require work authorization?

The activities below, whether paid or unpaid, generally constitute work under Hong Kong law. This list is not exhaustive, and many other professional activities are considered work in Hong Kong, even if conducted for a short duration.

  • Hands-on technical work
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Installation of machinery or hardware


If I am traveling to Hong Kong for work, what type of work authorization do I need?

The requirements for a work-authorized visa depend on your qualifications, on the nature and duration of your work, on your nationality, on your place of residence and on whether your employer has an entity in Hong Kong. The most common Hong Kong visas for employment purposes are:

  • Admission Scheme for Mainland Talent and Professionals (employment visa for skilled professionals from mainland China)
  • General Employment Scheme (employment visa for skilled professionals from overseas, Taiwan or Macau)
  • Technology Talent Admission Scheme (employment visa for skilled professionals in research, development, or technology industries)
  • Immigration Arrangements for Non-Local Graduates (residence visa for graduates of Hong Kong universities)
  • Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (points-based residence visa for highly skilled or talented persons)
  • Top Talent Pass Scheme (aimed at foreign nationals who are high-income talents and graduates from the world’s top universities)


Is it possible to be exempted from work authorization requirements?

Hong Kong does not offer work authorization exemptions.

What else should I know?

Inevitably, the legal and strategic considerations impacting visa selection, as well as visa waiver and work authorization eligibility, entail the careful consideration of many factors. We recommend that you consult with your immigration counsel before taking any course of action.


Copyright ©2024 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. Government immigration agencies often change their policies and practices without notice; please consult an immigration professional for up-to-date information. This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. BAL maintains comprehensive immigration information and processing specifics for our clients.